Ratner, Rebecca Hilary

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This report tracks the process of researching, developing, casting, directing and editing BORDERLINE, an hour-long documentary film. The film was produced as my graduate thesis film in the department of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas at Austin in partial fulfillment of a Masters of Fine Arts in Film Production. The film aims to get inside the psyche of Regina V, a woman living with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). The appeal of filming someone with this diagnosis was due to a common experience of those who diagnostically qualify: extreme emotional pain. Hence, in order to unravel the riddle of Borderline, one must understand the architecture of suffering, suffering as process, as action, an action I wanted to capture and detail. 80% of this population attempt suicide, 10% succeed. Approximately 2% of the US population meet criteria for BPD, and few practitioners have the skill or desire to treat it. As if mental “illness” were not already stigmatized, this diagnosis carries the most stigma within the mental health profession, many practitioners speaking in derogatory ways about those who diagnostically qualify. In essence, the hands that should feed and help those so afflicted are the very hands that shoo them away. Because Borderline is a diagnosis that points directly to an individual’s attachment issues and interpersonal dysregulation, I anticipated interpersonal challenges would emerge between me and the film’s main subject, Regina. I hoped that the complex dynamics within our relationship, if properly maneuvered, would translate to affects Regina expressed on camera and that these quick shifting affects would generate an experience for the audience that might jar their emotional space, offer a small taste of how Regina lives daily, an increased understanding of what generates emotional pain, and maybe inspire a shard of empathy, if not curiosity, for people who behave badly. If nothing else, film offers the opportunity to change a person’s feelings, on a minute-by-minute, scene-by-scene, shot-by-shot, blink-by-blink basis, such that we become hyper conscious of the blow-by blow emotional shifts that life events generate. With this film, I hope to take people on an emotional trip.



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